नेपाल के पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री शेर बहादुर देउबा ने प्रधानमंत्री मोदी से मुलाकात की
नेपाल के पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री ने नेपाल में आए दो जबरदस्त भूकंप के बाद भारत की अविलंब सहायता के लिए प्रधानमंत्री मोदी को धन्यवाद दिया

नेपाल के पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री श्री शेर बहादुर देउबा ने आज प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्‍द्र मोदी से भेंट की।

श्री देउबा ने नेपाल में आये दो भयंकर भूकंपों के तुरंत बाद भारत की ओर से की गई ठोस राहत कार्रवाई और दी गई सहायता के लिए प्रधानमंत्री का धन्‍यवाद किया। श्री देउबा ने जून 2015 में काठमांडू में हुए दानदाता सम्‍मेलन में भारत द्वारा घोषित किए गए एक अरब अमेरिकी डॉलर के संकल्‍प के लिए उसकी सराहना की।

Sher Bahadur Deuba

प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्‍द्र मोदी ने कहा कि भारत नेपाल में जारी पुनर्निर्माण कार्यों में अपनी ओर से मदद देने के लिए पूरी तरह प्रतिबद्ध है। उन्‍होंने इस गंभीर त्रासदी का सामना करने में दिखाई गई जीवटता के लिए नेपाल की जनता की सराहना की।



श्री देउबा ने नेपाल में नये संविधान को अपनाये जाने से संबंधित घटनाक्रमों से प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेन्‍द्र मोदी को वाकिफ कराया। प्रधानमंत्री ने हाल में हुई प्रगति की सराहना की और यह उम्‍मीद जताई कि लंबित मसलों को जल्‍द से जल्‍द सुलझा लिया जायेगा, ताकि अपनाये गये संविधान को समाज के सभी वर्गों का समर्थन मिल सके और इससे समावेशी, स्थिर एवं समृद्ध नेपाल के निर्माण में मदद मिल सके।

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अमृतकाल में त्याग और तपस्या से आने वाले 1000 साल का हमारा स्वर्णिम इतिहास अंकुरित होने वाला है : लाल किले से पीएम मोदी
PM Modi’s Game-Changing Ration Schemes: From Garibi Hatao to Garib Kalyan

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PM Modi’s Game-Changing Ration Schemes: From Garibi Hatao to Garib Kalyan
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पीएम मोदी का 'ओपन मैगजीन' के साथ इंटरव्यू
May 29, 2024

The Indian economy is seen to be in a sweet spot. There are positive signals from most of the sectors. The Indian stand­point on issues confronting the world is being appreciated. Many countries see India as having the required heft to provide solutions to global problems. In this backdrop, how important are the outcome of this election and the shape of the new government?

It is basic nature for anyone—be it an individual or a country—to support and look forward to stability. If we are not stable, if we are unable to take steps that help us realise our potential, then it is obvious that we will not encourage a favourable outcome towards ourselves.

Over the last decade, our decisions, our proactive approach and our future-ready form of governance have helped us in tapping the true potential of the Indian economy.

Our growth, aided by a series of different initiatives, has been so remarkable that enterprises and nations across the world have been looking forward to having a part to play in our progress story.

Our vision for a Viksit Bharat is not an inward-looking vision—it is a vision of greater collaborations, stronger partner­ships, and global growth. I think there is a strong appreciation of this vision across the world.

Take our global outreach, for example, be it G20 where we insisted on digital infrastructure as a public good in the Delhi Declaration, the International Solar Alliance, the International Biofuel Alliance, the I2U2, or the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure—are these not aimed at global good? The world is looking to India for answers.

Today, we are working to play a proactive role when it comes to forging deeper partnerships or resolving conflicts.

This makes the result of these elections very important because what the world looks forward to is continuity, it is consistency and it is stability—the three pillars of a decisive mandate by the people.

The election mandate is also very important because for 10 years we have done a lot of heavy-lifting, filled potholes from the past and empowered people with basic necessities. Now is the time for a quantum jump in aspirations and achievements. It is important that the path of growth is maintained at such an important time. People realise this and have decided to give us a huge mandate to accelerate progress.

Leftist slogans and prescriptions were seen to be respon­sible for pulling India back in the Congress years. These had little traction among policymakers in the recent past. But suddenly we see parties like Congress once again aggres­sively embracing those ideas. How will you counter this?

Congress, which has ruled the nation for several decades, has no real ideology except ‘Family First’—so they had to rely on ide­ologies that are alien to our land to continue their politics. Due to this, they had retrograde slogans and outdated programmes for everything.

Due to lack of a holistic national vision, their policies, their slogans could not achieve much. During Indiraji’s time, Congress turned into an outright leftist machinery. For every problem the nation faced, they gave a slogan. But the slogan could not solve any issue. They gave the slogan ‘Garibi Hatao’, but the nation ended up with the highest rate of inflation it has witnessed and a low rate of per capita income growth. By the end of the 1980s, Congress’ policies had led India to a massive balance of payment crisis that threatened the economy. Then again in 2004, Congress returned to power with the Left’s support. There again, outdated ideologies prevailed over commonsense and good governance.

Today, there is a declining trend of the Left in the country. Major citadels of Left politics have fallen. But there is one citadel of the Left that has only got stronger, which is within the Congress party. We saw how one of the closest advisors of Shehzaada was batting for a 55 per cent inheritance tax. In Congress’ manifesto, they have laid down their plans for wealth redistribution. She­hzaada has said that he would do an X-ray of the personal wealth of people. We have also seen how Manmohan Singh had declared that Muslims had the first right to national resources. What do all of these things point towards—that Congress has not changed with the times and remains outdated.

Their behaviour and promises are based on the premise that they are not coming to power. They have done no calculation behind the viability of their promises and what it would do to our economy. Their constant targeting of wealth-creators shows that progress and prosperity of the country do not matter to them.

As for countering this, the people of India are doing so. They have decided to punish Congress very severely and this will reflect in the results.

Why is the “Khan Market Gang”—you referred to them in a recent address in Kolkata—constantly attacking you and your government? They contend that the spirit of democracy is on the wane in India.

The loss of power and influence, and that too when one has wield­ed them for decades, can be lethal. For 60 years, a small coterie of people dominated all spheres of governance and politics. These people spoke the same language, had the same cultural biases, thought the same way, and were totally disconnected from the rest of India. This coterie was powerful because of their surnames and not any real hard work. Sadly, for them, India has changed in the last decade and that is why they may be angry.

And in their anger they come up with new narratives year after year to prove their point.

As for democracy, let me tell you, democracy has been a part of our land for centuries. It is in our temperament to be democratic. The only time democracy was under threat was during Emer­gency and we all know which party imposed it. By the way, this is the same party which got the first amendment to curtail free speech. This is also the same party which wanted to snatch press freedom. I can go on and on about their anti-democratic nature, but I do want to say that democracy will always be vibrant in our nation, whatever narratives they want to peddle.

Why is a section of opinion-makers lenient towards one set of politicians even when they are caught in cases of corruption? I am referring to the play that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who is on parole, is getting in the media and elsewhere. Has corruption in high places ceased to be an issue?

It is quite shocking that individuals identified by the court as being involved in corruption are receiving extensive media cov­erage without being cross-examined. When they make state­ments, these are accepted as truth and presented as such by the media. This person, who is out on bail for a few days, has been further exposed upon his release. The common people are observing, understand­ing, and realising this.

Corruption is indeed a criti­cal issue. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was originally founded on the plank of opposing Con­gress’ corruption, and today, it is sitting with them while criticis­ing the Directorate of Enforce­ment (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). If the agen­cies had wrongfully accused him, why did he not receive relief from the court?

Furthermore, the opposition, which has accused ED and other agencies, has yet to prove in a sin­gle case that the allegations are unfounded. Every raid conduct­ed by ED and CBI has revealed piles of cash, and people are wit­nessing this. For us, corruption is a very serious issue because it directly impacts people’s lives. It is impossible to say that corruption is not an issue. I have now added another aspect to this mantra: Na Khaunga, Na Khane Dunga. I have now added: Jisne Khaya Hai Woh Nikalunga, Aur Jiska Khaya Hai Usko Khilaunga. I will ensure that funds are recovered from the corrupt and returned to their right­ful owners.

We have already demonstrat­ed our track record in this regard. ₹17,000 crore of the ₹1.25 lakh crore of seized money has already been returned to the people. More than ₹1.16 lakh crore worth of pro­ceeds of crime has been attached by ED since 2014, compared to only ₹5,000 crore before 2014. These findings show that our investigative agencies are doing their job well. Therefore, it is important to let these agencies operate without interference and without unfounded accusations of political bias.

There has been an effort to de-legitimise elections in India. It began with raising questions about EVMs and now there is a full-blown attack on the Election Commission. Some foreign publications have also joined this campaign. What is the reason for this attack?

Successive defeats and the fear of irrelevance can make people do very strange things.

Let me share a perspective with you: our party has spent a con­siderable amount of time in opposition, including the time when we had merely two MPs. We never ever discredited India’s vibrant democratic processes. On the contrary, we worked towards expanding our own party and going among the people, which is why today we have emerged as the people’s preferred choice.

In 2014, Congress got its lowest-ever tally in Indian his­tory. Their performance in 2019 was about the same. In normal circumstances, this should have been a cause of introspection but nothing of that sort has really happened. On the contrary, they have blamed everyone except themselves for their pitiable condition.

Over time, they have begun to discredit the electoral process of India. And it is laughable because they, too, have been winning elec­tions through this very process, including two states a year.

I just hope better sense prevails and they devote their time and en­ergy to more constructive things.

You recently signalled that you have a 100-day plan for the government after it takes over for a third term. Will this be policy moves?

If you look closely at the track record of my governments, wheth­er at the state or the national level, you will find that we believe in be­ginning with a bang. Usually, the first 100 days of any government are full of new energy due to the euphoria of electoral victory. It has been my firm belief that this en­ergy should be channelled to yield immediate benefits for the people by taking big and bold decisions.

This also sends a message to the administrative machinery about the momentum, pace and direction for the next five years.

Take 2019, for example. Within 100 days of our victory, a num­ber of big decisions were taken. There were many reforms in the banking sector, many of which directly resulted in the banking boom that we see today. The scope of PM Kisan was expanded from small and marginal farmers to all farmers. Amendments were made to the Unlawful Activities (Preven­tion) Act (UAPA) to strengthen India’s fight against terrorism. We had promised to form the Jal Shakti ministry and it was done in this period. The legislation against triple talaq became a reality. We acted against Article 370 and ensured that Babasaheb’s Constitution fully empowered the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh.

Any government would like to have achieved such things in its whole five years. But we did all this within the first 100 days!

For 2024 too, yes, we began with a 100-day plan for the third term of our government. But seeing the enthusiastic response to our governance from the youth, we have increased the scope to a 125-day plan, with 25 days having specific focus on policy decisions to benefit the youth.

The upcoming Budget takes place in exceptional circum­stances. No government has had such an excellent macro­economic backdrop, especially with respect to resurgent economic growth. What will be the broad contours defining this year’s Budget?

I would like to humbly point out one nuance from your question. You said no government has had such an excellent macroeco­nomic backdrop and resurgent economic growth. It needs to be mentioned that these conditions did not happen of their own.

Bold economic reforms, keeping inflation down, continuous fillip to growth, focus on empowering the poor and marginalised sections, and fiscal discipline, even during a once-in-a-century global crisis, have given rise to a positive macroeconomic envi­ronment. In the past 10 years, our economy has grown but, at the same time, the benefits of growth have been taken to every region and every section of society. This will continue even in the future.

The upcoming Budget will take off where the interim Budget left off. With our interim Budget we have already shown that our focus is on strengthening the four pillars of our country—youth, poor, women, and farmers. It is these fellow citizens of ours who will be the key to building a Viksit Bharat.

There were big decisions for infrastructure, investment, indus­try and innovation in the Budget as well. You will find a further strengthening of these facets in the upcoming Budget.

One big feedback in this election is that aspirations have surged, especially since the new ecosystem is enabling social mobility. However, progress has not been easy, given that the legacy deficits—especially with respect to basics like banking, electricity, drinking water—are just being over­come, leaving most Indians at a disadvantage. How will the government help the youth realise their aspirations?

For a long time, Congress-led governments kept people deprived of even the basics because they were aware that delivering good governance would raise expectations and only increase work for them. They had a ‘basic minimum’ attitude. Congress carefully calibrated the minimum amount of work they needed to do for the minimum number of people to keep winning elections. They promised only that and delivered even less. In the next election, the same cycle would continue.

But we have broken this status quo of ‘basic minimum’ and worked on delivering a ‘100 per cent saturation model’ where ev­eryone will be guaranteed of getting the benefits of every govern­ment scheme, be it bank accounts, toilets, tap water, or electricity.

We knew this would give rise to expectations for more and it was our declared intention to fuel these aspirations. I see rising aspirations and expectations of the people, especially the youth, as a good sign for our democracy. Through this, we are setting up a political culture where good governance is demanded as a right by the people.

Right from Day One, even as we were working on fulfilling the basics, we have also been working on a detailed roadmap to empower our youth.

Our roadmap for the future, too, will encompass a 4E approach. 4E is Education, Entrepreneurship, Employment, and Emerging Sectors. When it comes to education, we are setting a furious pace, both in terms of quality and quantity. In the last 10 years, we have added a new college in India every day and a new university every week. Till 2014, there were less than 400 medical colleges in India. But today there are nearly 700. We have almost tripled the number of AIIMS in the country. There has also been a massive increase in the number of IITs, IIMs, IIITs, etc.

At the same time, just a few weeks ago, it was reported by the QS World University Rankings that, this year, Indian universities demonstrated the highest performance improvement among all G20 nations.

So, we are seeing a rise in both quantity and quality.

In terms of entrepreneurship, whether it is MUDRA Yojana or Startup India, our schemes have set a strong platform for our youth.

MUDRA has created around eight crore new entrepreneurs. And we have promised a doubling of MUDRA Yojana’s loan size in the new government. This will go a long way in funding the dreams of our youth.

We already have around one lakh registered startups and this number is only set to grow in future with more and more youth getting exposure to innovation, investment and information.

The employment scenario in our country is seeing a revolu­tion due to the push for Aatmanirbharta or self-reliance.

From a mobile importer, we became the second-largest manu­facturer of mobiles. From a country that imported toys, we have become a country whose toy exports have gone up in record numbers. Our defence exports have grown twentyfold in the last 10 years. We are also seeing massive growth in manufacturing across various sectors.

This momentum towards building a self-reliant industrial base, complemented by our efforts to impart skills to youth, will be a big factor in the rise of our economy to the top three in the world.

Added to this is our constant focus on emerging sectors or sunrise sectors that opens up new opportunities for youth. Semiconductors, space, AI, gaming, green energy, green hydro­gen, space, drones—many such sectors are being opened up for our youth. These will bring a fresh new wave of job creation. We will leave no stone unturned to ensure that Young India’s dreams come true in a New India.

Another singular achievement of your government has been its record with respect to the empowerment of women. Beginning with your first Independence Day speech, your government has accorded dignity and empowerment to women. How do you view the social impact of such a profound transformation?

When speaking of the transformation that the nation’s women have been leading over the past few years, I often get reminded of my conversation with a Lakhpati Didi from the tribal areas of Madhya Pradesh. So that your readers have some context, Lakhpati Didis are rural women who are organised into self-help groups (SHGs), where they work with each other to run grass­roots enterprises with financial assistance from the government. This has proven to be very successful across India, with one crore women becoming Lakhpati Didis already.

So, while I was speaking to this Lakhpati Didi, I asked her how her life changed. She said that earlier her husband used to travel around on a bicycle to his work. She found success in her small enterprise and she bought a scooter for him. Then, as an entre­preneur with a source of income, she took a loan and bought a tractor for him. That tractor became a source of income for him as well because he began to be called by farmers for the services of his tractor. She said they were on the verge of even repaying the tractor loan.

A number of socio-economic equations are being overturned by such schemes. Imagine the social impact that such work is bound to have when I say that we will work to create three crore Lakhpati Didis.

Our vision of women-led development is where women are not waiting to be empowered by others but are leading the em­powerment of themselves and others. The government will play the role of an enabler. This was just one example.

But be it Jan Dhan accounts, toilets, tap water, MUDRA loans, or Ujjwala LPG connections, most of our flagship schemes have women as a central focus. Because the people most affected by the lack of these resources were women. Now, the movement of women on the path of social and financial leadership is on an upward trajectory and will continue to be so.

Your government is unique given that it has managed to achieve convergence between domestic and foreign policies. How will your government ensure this endures, given the heightened fluidity in geopolitics?

The reason you see this convergence between domestic and foreign policies is that the basic principle for both is the same— Nation First. This principle sets all our priorities. So, when we are thinking of taking a tough decision domestically, our litmus test is not the political cost-benefit calculation but whether this is good for the nation or not.

When people see that we are putting national interest above politics, the support for our policy becomes broad-based. This massive backing of the people also serves us well in international relations because the world knows India’s leadership has the confidence of 140 crore people.

Countries that are working with us are also clear about our priorities. Be it in terms of energy security, combating climate change, trade, securing our borders, or rescuing our people from conflict zones, the world knows that India will do whatever is necessary for the welfare of its people and the world.

No matter how fluid geopolitics becomes, I believe there is space for a human-centric and principle-based approach. We saw this recently even during the G20 summit when the world came together in India. Our human-centric vision of progress is receiving widespread global support and I am confident that we will continue to do so.

You have reoriented politics in the last 10 years by empower­ing hitherto ignored categories like women. This has blunted entitlement politics. How do you see things panning out in the coming years?

Your question has the answer within it. How could we, as a nation, progress when more than half our population was ignored and deprived of any opportunity to contribute to national growth?

In these 10 years, we have not just empowered women, the marginalised and the backward communities; we have actually made them pivot points for prosperity. In the last 10 years, we have moved beyond the conventional idea of mere women’s empowerment or women’s development to a much larger vision of women-led development.

Each and every individual who has been touched or empow­ered with a government scheme has then passed on the benefits of their progress to those around them.

Till August 2023, we had provided over 43 crore MUDRA loans—of which around 70 per cent were provided to women. These loans led to the creation of eight crore new businesses; as these businesses grow, so will the number of individuals they employ and benefit. Since that time we have provided five crore more MUDRA loans—so you can imagine the pace at which this support and empowerment have gone forward and in our next term we aim to take it even further by doubling the credit avail­ability of MUDRA loans up to ₹20 lakh.

We passed the historic Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam in our new Parliament—and in future you will see how this historic legislation, which the opposition kept delaying, will empower not just women to become people’s representatives but also our entire legislature.

Similarly, two schemes which have led to the comprehen­sive and holistic enhancement of people’s lives have been the PM Awas Yojana (PMAY) and the Ayushman Bharat-PMJAY. Every home built under PMAY is not just four walls and a roof, it is the centre of economic activity and a runway for aspirations to take flight—of these homes, 70 per cent have the name of one of my sisters, my mothers or my daughters on the registration.

Similarly, with the Ayushman Bharat scheme we have en­sured that the gains made by poor families to lift themselves out of poverty are made irreversible. With Ayushman Bharat, seven crore families did not have to mortgage their savings, their land, their homes or their jewellery just to cover the cost of hospital admissions and treatments. You can imagine the boost it gives to their aspirations. In our next term, we are expanding the scope and coverage of both these schemes.

Overall, this is what we aim to do, we do not look at our achieve­ments as a culmination, but rath­er as the beginning of the road to a Viksit Bharat where every member of our society, regardless of caste, gender, colour, religion or location, is a beneficiary and contributor, where Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas, and Sabka Prayas is integral to our progress and prosperity.

In the last 10 years, you have acted decisively against what some experts call “regulatory cholesterol”. You have been against red-tapism. But do you think enough has been done?

In today’s world, there is a startup idea being discussed in every sin­gle classroom, café, and corner. From a village that may want to innovate around horticulture and handlooms to a group of students who may want to experiment with AI and machine learning, we have aspiring entrepreneurs everywhere. I do not want these aspiring entrepreneurs to worry about red tape. Every minute is critical for businesses, small and big, and therefore, it was impor­tant to do away with redundant and restrictive policies. By doing away with more than 39,000 un­necessary compliances and 1,500 archaic laws, or bringing the Jan Vishwas Act aimed at decriminal­ising and rationalising the system for ease of doing business, we have removed the speed breakers and pressed the accelerator for speedy and effective governance.

Excessive red-tapism has also been addressed by integrating digital public infrastructure (DPI) in the routine processes. Be it the Goods and Services Tax (GST), or a simple process of availing a loan, I don’t want our wealth creators to squander their precious time combating bureaucratic hurdles.

When I took over in 2014, one of my mottos was ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’. Ten years later, we have achieved that. Could anyone have imagined in 2014 that 52 crore new bank account holders could access micro loans without even going to the bank?

From micro to macro, the red lights in the path of ease of doing business are now green.

Centre-state relations are always a tricky area—especially when a section of the opposition believes in the politics of confrontation. How do you propose to get a convergence and insulate the economy from troublesome elements?

Not a single one of the opposition’s narratives has been accepted in the court of law or in the people’s court. Take for example, the Vande Bharat trains, airports or Metros—it is clear that they have been started in every part of the country—north, south, centre, east and west. Similarly, expressways, Jan Dhan accounts, start­ups, MUDRA and SVANidhi loans, PMAY homes, PM Kisan payments and completion of many stalled projects—all of this has been achieved at a pan-India level. Tax devolution, which the opposition was attempting to make an issue, has increased exponentially to all states.

Our government has written a new chapter on co-operative and competitive federalism. GST is a model for Centre-state co­operation and its success shows what we have achieved together. The aspirational districts programme has seen good convergence at Centre, state and district levels. We have encouraged and incen­tivised ease of doing business at the state level. During Covid-19, we made unprecedented efforts and took all states along. We also allowed excess borrowing depending on reforms done by states. We saw all states and over 100 cities host G20 events.

As far as the question of safeguarding the economy is concerned, I believe that if I can shield my people against the challenges across the world, if I can provide them with a Surak­sha Kavach, I can ensure that our economy will continue to grow and thrive.

I am a son of a poor family; my party is made up of people who come from a farming family, a middle-class family, a poor family. This is why our government has ensured that while those from poor families, those fighting poverty, will get the security of Modi, they will get a Guarantee of Modi, they will get a Suraksha Kavach around them.

Even as the world battled with double-digit inflation, we ensured that inflation in India remained in the manageable category. In the last 10 years, the average inflation has been less than 5 per cent.

I will also cite some examples—today, if you want the best treatment, you are covered with Ayushman Bharat Yojana; if you want quality medicines, you can get them from a Janausha­dhi Kendra; if you worry about getting food for your family, the Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana is there for you; if you are a farmer and worry about your basic needs, at a time when the price of urea is touching ₹3,000, my farmer brothers and sisters are getting it for ₹300.

For the last 10 years and in future as well, our vision of putting India first, Indians first, Indian interests first, will continue. This security—this Suraksha Kavach—around Indians will continue; that is our first and foremost priority.

The markets are holding firm despite attempts to derail them. Is it because of confidence in policy continuity—in other words, your continuation as prime minister?

I came to know that the markets were at an all-time high earlier this week. Clearly, a lot of factors are driving this upward trend, both globally and nationally. If you look at the markets at any given point, globally and not merely in India, you will realise that the factors driving investor sentiment, institutional or individual, are quite similar. Businesses like policy continuity that comes only from political stability and that stability only comes from a government that has a majority.

Can you imagine how markets would react if we had a new prime minister every year, as a part of a forced coalition? We have had coalitions in the past, but none as fractured as the one proposed by our opposition. This coalition is not about clarity or conviction but chaos and confusion.

The markets have covered a journey from 25000 to 75000 on the Sensex in our 10 years. Markets have seen that ours is a government which is reform-oriented and has also improved the participation of retail investors significantly.

Our government has always been about celebrating wealth and employment-creation. From a woman running a small business in some village to a corporate employing thousands of people, our policies are all about empowering entrepreneurs.

Every single welfare programme or policy initiative we ran, from Jan Dhan Yojana to the Open Network for Digital Com­merce, for the people was to enable them to become economic stakeholders in the country’s progress.

We are poised to become the third-largest economy in the world. The confidence you see in the markets is their perception of the people and their mandate for a developed nation.

We pulled 25 crore people out of multidimensional poverty and we have empowered 100 crore people in the last 10 years, and in the next 10 years, these empowered households are going to lead the Indian growth story. These people are going to become the new wealth and job creators.

The strong buoyancy you are witnessing in the markets is a testament to the times to come. No one can derail the Indian growth story now. Several CEOs in the West are already saying that going forward you cannot ignore India. If they can’t ignore India and its imminent growth, how do you think markets in our financial capital can?

Banking was one sector that bore the brunt in the UPA years. How did the government manage to overcome the problem?

This is a very important question, and I am glad you asked me about this. When we took over in 2014, we inherited what has been described as the ‘Twin Balance Sheet Problem’. The origins of this problem were in the exuberant credit growth that was al­lowed for some corporations. As you would know, several of these corporations had their projects ending up as Non-Performing As­sets (NPAs). Preferential treatment by the previous government for a few corporations created the plague of NPAs. This was your era of phone-banking.

In 2014, banks had a critical problem. They had NPAs on their balance sheets which they could not get rid of, and because of that they were unable to lend to small businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. The public sector banks (PSBs) were recording losses every year. Our banking system was in a credit deadlock. That was the mess Congress had left behind.

We introduced new reforms to recognise existing and poten­tial NPAs, created laws that ensured easy exit for a business if it was running at a loss through the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (2016), as that would benefit the creditors as well.

For 70 years, no government had worked on such reforms but for us it was a priority because, unlike Congress, we could not leave the entire banking system at risk.

Ten years later, bank profits have exceeded ₹3 lakh crore in FY24. There is no credit deadlock anymore and everyone, from a woman working in an SHG to an entrepreneur, can access credit as per their eligibility.

Even though there were some economists who predicted that our MUDRA loan programme would usher in the next NPA crisis, the NPA ratio is very low, even when over 43 crore loans worth ₹22.5 lakh crore have been given.

The buck does not stop here. Financial inclusion, because of DPI, is now making personalised bank­ing possible for every single house­hold, without any paperwork.

On the foundation of Jan Dhan- Aadhaar-Mobile (JAM), we now have the Account Aggregator (AA) framework that is enabling people to access multiple credit options from the comfort of their homes, and availing credit in minutes.

Congress ended up with an NPA crisis because their focus was nar­rowed to a few corporations, but our priority was inclusive growth, and that reflects in the current health of the banking system after a decade of our being in power.

Why are your rivals, particular­ly the members of the Gandhi family, angry with you?

I can’t answer that question. It is best that they do. What have they not done to harass me? And it has been going on for two decades and more.

For my part, all I can say is that I have malice towards no one.

The people of India have seen the injustice, abuse, character as­sassination they have unleashed on me and have given me unparalleled affection. I am grateful for that.

Source: Open Magazine